The Aspen Strategy Group (ASG) and the Ananta Aspen Centre held the 23rd U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue virtually on March 23-24, 2021. The meeting focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S.-India relationship at this unique moment as the new Biden administration is reshaping U.S. foreign policy, both countries are struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and China continues to exert an aggressive posture in the Indo-Pacific.
Discussions the first day focused on the future of the U.S.-India strategic security partnership and defense cooperation. Given that the Quad recently held its first meeting at the head of government-level, the participants were optimistic about the potential for deeper collaboration and coordination. Former senior government official from recent administrations, as well as members of academia and the private sector from both countries, offered thoughts on how to build upon the current momentum and maximize the security partnership. A current member of the Modi government also provided further insights into the Indian perspective and how to avoid over-emphasizing differences when there is so much common ground for cooperation.
The second day’s sessions turned to issues related to trade, technology, and the economy, beginning with a special briefing on the U.S.-India Climate Dialogue and recommendations for specific environmental initiatives. Participants then heard from business leaders and a former U.S. ambassador to India on the current obstacles to greater economic partnership, a pillar of the relationship that has not developed as fully as the security dimension in recent years. Finally, a senior member of the Biden administration provided an important update on the U.S. perspective towards this important relationship and U.S. priorities in the Indo-Pacific.
In many ways, the U.S.-India relationship will be the most important relationship of the 21st century. We look forward to continuing this important conversation in smaller, issue-specific working groups in the coming months.